Archive for November 30th, 2009

November ‘Meanderings’ …

Pictured (top to bottom)
Yorkshire Oatmeal Parkin
Chicken Gumbo
Bajan Style Lamb Stew
Basic Recipe: Yoghurt side dish -Tzatsiki/Cacik/Raita

100_9018 Parkin

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

With the nights really closing in and a nip in the air the month started with a ‘bang’ on 5th November with the annual marking of fireworks night.  In early November I always try to make a batch of Yorkshire Oatmeal Parkin: its gingery warmth tastes just right at this time of the year.  I have also made some scrumptious Ginger Biscuits from a much used family recipe: ‘Jolly’ Ginger Biscuits will be posted in the next few days.  Why Jolly?  Wait and see, but there is no doubt that they are ‘jolly’ good!

100_4159  Chicken-Turkey Gumbo

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

We now have plenty of chutney and pickles to take us through the winter.  Some of the new ones I included last month were so successful (ie. finished up) that I went on to make a second batch.  The Christmas Chutney made just a few days ago will be included shortly.  Its a very spicy mixture with splashes of red and green which will be just right with the cold meats at tea time on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.    

100_7992 Bajan style Lamb Stew

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Many of the recipes I have included this month have an overseas influence.  I finally finished watching Gary Rhodes’ culinary visits to the Islands of the Caribbean in his television series Rhodes around the Caribbean.  The documentary parts were really interesting and most of the food not especially difficult to make, particularly if you are fortunate to have a wonderful array of local ethnic shops which stock almost all the key ingredients.  The series left me wanting more, though, but I am sure there are plenty of books available.  I have included recipes for Bajan Style Lamb Stew after Gary Rhodes’ recipe, Rice & Peas from a book on my shelf, plus Fried Plantain and Hyacinth’s Salt Fish Cakes, both from recipes given by friends.  There are also instructions for Chicken Gumbo based on a recipe originating from the Southern States of the USA.    

100_5701 Tzatziki

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

As well as recipes I have reviewed Apricots on the Nile: A memoir with recipes by Collette Rossant which led me to try her recipe for Grilled Chicken with Sumac & Roasted Banana.  I served this with a traditional yoghurt side dish which I have also included: Basic Recipe: Yoghurt side dish -Tzatsiki/Cacik/Raita.  This gives variations for Greek/Turkish/Middle Eastern/Indian yoghurt side dishes, all of which seem similar yet are slightly different.   

For a full list of postings since my October Meanderings see below. (Recipes already posted have been highlighted and the others will appear in coming weeks.)   

November Recipes …

Bajan Style Lamb Stew
Chicken Gumbo
Fried Plantain
Grilled Chicken with Sumac & Roasted Banana
Hyacinth’s Salt Fish Cakes
Pear Dappy
Rice & Peas
Yorkshire Oatmeal Parkin  

Back to basics:
Basic Recipe: Yoghurt side dish -Tzatsiki/Cacik/Raita  

Book review:
Apricots on the Nile – Collette Rossant   

Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months   

‘For what we are about to receive…’ December 2009 and beyond

Food for the mind…  

Non Fiction Food book
Not sure I will have time for much non-recipe book reading this month.  Perhaps a New Year resolution to finish the couple of books mentioned in previous months.  

Recipe books I’ll be looking through…   

Delia Smith’s Christmas (I have the old one but I see she has written a new Christmas book!)
Nigella Lawson: Feast and any number of Christmas sections in the other books I own, plus magazine pull outs.  So much to choose from!   

… and for the December table …   

We are now in the season of Advent and looking forward to the coming of Christmas so my thoughts have been turning to seasonal food.  I don’t have to cook the turkey this year, or the pudding, but I have already made my Christmas cake using the family recipe passed down from my Nana.  The jury is still out on how I will finish it.  For the last couple of years I have turned our cake into a Dundee cake topped with circles of cherries and almonds rather than the traditional Marzipan, icing and ‘kitsch’ figures.  This year I have seen an idea for a Florentine topping which I think I will be trying out, so watch this space.  Among other treats I am also thinking of making are StollenLebkuchen (if I can decide which online recipe to try as I don’t have one in a book), some homemade Cranberry & Orange Relish and a lovely sounding dessert from a Sainsbury instore recipe card which combines clementines and ginger.  When I eventually make it and if it is successful, it will certainly appear here.   

Christmas in our house is a time for family and friends, but most of all we celebrate the reason for Christmas: the coming of Jesus Christ, the baby born in Bethlehem who shows us the way back to God.  I hope you will enjoy this lovely animated film telling of the first Christmas.

May you know God’s blessing & peace this Christmas…

…and Happy Eating!

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Gumbo is a dish from the southern states of the USA, in particular Louisiana. When I first started to collect recipes I pasted or copied them into a file and about twenty years ago I wrote down a recipe for Chicken Gumbo featured on the BBC Food & Drink programme, which I made not long after.   It can also be made with seafood, in particular shrimp.

Chicken (or Turkey) Gumbo has since become a regular family favourite, especially as it is fairly quick and easy to make.  The original recipe, which I think was a basic ‘no frills’ version, has been slightly adapted down the years, augmented with extra ingredients as I have come across variations in different recipe books. My recipe is probably not absolutely authentic, I know, but we like it!  Broadly, however, it  remains the same: sometimes using chicken and sometimes using turkey, but always using okra, making sure I do not over cook it.  We like our okra slightly crisp, with the sticky juices just starting to seep out to thicken the stew: some versions of gumbo are thickened in other ways.  Using diced chicken breast meat is a quick cook version and it should not be overcooked as it will toughen.  Chicken thighs, as in my original recipe, are a cheaper alternative and will benefit from a longer and slower cooking.  Sometimes smoked pork sausage is used in authentic gumbo recipes.  If you wish, some sliced or diced sausage can be added at the same time and in place of some of the chicken.  I serve my Gumbo with warm corn bread or with rice and sweetcorn or corn fritters.

100_4159  Chicken-Turkey Gumbo
‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’ http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Chicken Gumbo
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1 large Onion, halved and finely sliced
1 large clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
4ozs button mushrooms, sliced (optional)
½tsp mixed herbs
¼tsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
500g/1lb skinned chicken breasts, in large bite sized pieces or boned chicken thighs, left whole
400g/14oz tin of plum tomatoes
150ml/¼pt water, more if necessary
large pinch of sugar
1 large Green Pepper, sliced
125g/4ozs Okra, stem ends removed and cut into ½inch/2cm lengths.
Salt & pepper, to taste

1. Gently fry the onion, garlic, celery and mushroom for 5-10minutes but do not let it brown. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them so they start to colour. Put on the pan lid and cook on a medium heat for 5-10minutes. Stir in the mixed herbs and chilli powder/cayenne pepper.

2. Chop the contents of the tin of tomatoes and add to the pan with the sugar and water. Stew gently for another 10minutes for chicken breast pieces and 15-20minutes  for chicken thighs. If the mixture starts to dry out then add a little more water.

3. Mix in the green pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.

4. Finally, 10-15 minutes before serving the gumbo, add the okra pieces, stir well and cook over a medium heat until the juices start to thicken the stew.  Season to taste.  We like our okra when it is still an attractive green colour and retaining some crispness and it needs to be checked regularly as it overcooks very quickly.  Once it is cooked the gumbo needs to be served immediately as it will continue to cook in the pan.

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